AutoCAD Architecture: AEC Modify Tools

This awesome Tools make editing 2D objects really quick. It is like having Boolean Tools for 2D.
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AutoCAD Architecture has some great tools that help working way faster than with plain AutoCAD. Some of them are logically specific to Architecture, but others like the AEC Modify Tools I think should be standard to any AutoCAD version. They are actually like having Boolean operators for 2D Objects. See this quick video to understand what they do.

Sorry for some of the Tools Selection beeing cut on the video...I am still working on getting this video recording figured out. The order of the tools used is the one on this image. I skipped the ones on the bottom, after the spacer, since I don't find them very useful.

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SketchUp Plugins: Engineering Toolbox

Do you need beams, pipes, HVAC ducts, elbows, etc? The Engineering ToolBox Allows you to insert them to SketchUp with the right dimenisons.
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EngineeringToolBox.rb is a SktchUp Plugin to easily insert standard engineering elements to a SketchUp model. You can find more information on the plugin's website, but basically what you need to know is that this plugin will allow you to insert Pipes, elbows, lumber elements, flanges, metal beams and columns icluding standard IPE (not IPN unfortunately, which would be the most time consuming to model actually), HEB, etc, stairs, channels, hollow sections, and more. To me, specially useful are the standard Beam sections, no more referring to the standard dimensions manual to model these elements.

The Plugin works as a web dialog. Once installed, simply go to Plugins --> Engineering ToolBox. From there a web dialog will open (you need to have an internet connection) and you will access the plugin's website where you will be able to choose the elements you want to add to your model.
Download it here and give it a try, it is a trully time saver.

via SketchUp Ireland

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SketchUp Plugins: Google's Ruby Scripts

Google has a set of Plugins (ruby Scripts) on the SU website
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Google has a set of Plugins for SketchUp that can be downloaded directly from their website here.
The list includes:
  • Bezier: to create Bezier curves
  • Rotated Rectangle: for creating rotated rectangles.
  • Shapes: to create and editing a number of parametric shapes.
  • Window Maker: for creating parametric double-hung and slider windows. (different than the Windowizer Plugin)
  • Grids: to create parametric grids.
    Onion Dome: to create onion domes.
  • Simplify Contours: it simplifies the geometry, making it easier to work with.

Most of them are for very basic operations, but once you have them you'll miss them if you don't have them anymore, so keep the link for when you transfer to a new workstation.

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Rhino Plugins: VisualArq - Architectural Tools for Rhino

Need some ACA like tools when using Rhino? This might be the Plugin you are looking for.
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Rhino is a great modeling software, but you will agree with me that when it comes to simple tasks like creating Walls, windows, Stairs, etc. it is not as efficient as AutoCAD Architecture or SketchUp (specially if you have the 1001bit tools Plugin).
Well that might change if you add to your set of Plugins the VisualArq set of Architectural Tools. This set of tools aims to improve the work speed for Architects, Interior Designers, Etc by adding a set of Parametric Architectural Objects and Documentation Tools.
I haven't had the chance to check it since I only have access to Rhino at work, but from the Gallery on the VisualArq website, the Plugin looks promising.
You will need Rhino's Service Release 5 to be able to use this plugin.

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SketchUp Plugins: Loft

The Loft operation is very common in 3D softwares. Now SketchUp has a Plugin to do it too.
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Chris Fullmer has programmed a Ruby Script to be able to do the common Loft Operation (creating a surface from too Curves). It is not yet a final release of the Plugin and it is not 100% precise, but it does the trick and it is very useful and easy to use.
For those who don't know what a Loft operation is, check this couple of images and see how the surfaces on the right were created from the profiles on the left.

Chris has published a video at SCF where you can see the Plugin beeing used. The Link also works to download the Plugin (you need to be registered).

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AutoCAD: Find those Commands You can't Remember

Does it happen to you that you remember a command but not exactly and thus can't tye it properly? AutoCAD will help you with your lack of memory.
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The list of commands we use in AutoCAD is often longer than we can remember. Nevertheless it is more possible that we remember how a command begins but not the rest of it. We'll, AutoCAD can help you find the end of that missing command in your memory.
If you type the first couple or 3 letters of a command, and then press TAB, AutoCAD will cycle through all the commands that begin with those letters. Keep pressing TAB till you find the command you had forgotten.
It is actually a good way to discover new commands too. By looking a forgotten one you might stumble upon a very useful command you didn't even know that it existed.

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SketchUp Books: The Missing Manual

Another Manual to learn SketchUp.
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If you are looking for a cheap Book to learn SketchUp this might be the one you are looking for. Priced at only $24 dollars, it seems a good choice for those starting with SketchUp who prefer to work with a Manual near the computer.
The Missing Manual offers a good insight on SU's interface, it gives some tips on what the program is best for and has a detailed Index of Menu Entries for reference.
Remember that there is plenty of information about the Program for free on the internet, but if you prefer to learn with a manual to back you up, maybe you want to give this a try.

or or

If you want to check other Books about SketchUp, you can go to the SketchUp section of the CAD Addict Bookshelf.

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AutoCAD: Control How You Mirror Texts

Do you want to Mirror Text but AutoCAD keeps it the same way? There is a system variable for that.
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The System Variable MIRRTEXT controls how texts are mirrored. The default Value 0, mirrors the location of the texts, but it does not actually mirrors their orientation. If you set the value of MIRRTEXT to 1, then you will be able to Mirror the Text or Mtext as if it was any other object, Block, etc. Chek the image below. First is a text mirrored with the MIRRTEXT system variable set to 0, the second one has the variable set to 1.

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AutoCAD Architecture: Editing AEC Polygons

AEC Polygons can be very quickly edited using grips. It's a zillion times faster than editing polylines.
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Somemonths back I wrote a post about Working with AEC Polygons in AutoCAD Architecture.
I thought I would add a video to that post, but since it is old and I rather have all of you subscribers seeing the video I decided to create a new post and link both of them.
So here is the video, it basically shows how you can edit the AEC Polygons by simply clicking on the grips and pressing CTRL to toggle between different editing modes.

Other editing tools, the AEC Modify Tools will be described in a post soon.

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AutoCAD Weekly Block #08: Cobblestone Pattern

Download this block and learn about the SUPERHATCH command
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This week's Block is the first that is not a dynamic one. The reason for that is that I remembered I had not talked in here about the SUPERHATCH command. As you will see, the SUPERHATCH command allows you to hatch an area with any custom made hatch.
Why is it in the weekly block section? Well the way SUPERHATCH works involves Blocks much more than it involves hatches (it actually does not involve hatch patterns at all.
The block for download is a cobblestone pattern that my company uses in some of the projects (not everyone gets to work on Zaha's futuristic You can Download it here. See the snapshot of the block below.

We use this block to hatch certain areas, and the way to do it quick and efficiently is using the SUPERHATCH Express Tool. When you call the SUPERHATCH command, you will see the following menu.

Here you will select Block as an option and use the downloaded " cobblestone" Block. After doing this, simply follow the prompts, basically, you simply need to pick the initial position, rotation and scale, and then pick an internal point of the area you want to Superhatch.
The result will be a set of blocks clipped to fit the boundary selected. See below.

Remember that when selecting "internal point" if the drawing is heavy the computer might crash, so I would recommend you to switch off any unnecessary layers before attempting this operation.

This command has more options that have not been explored in this post, but I think you can get an idea of how powerful this is.

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SketchUp Plugins: Extrude Edges using Edges

A Plugin to extrude a curved edge along a curved path.
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Ruby programmer TIG has recently released a new awesome Plugin for Sketchup called extrudeEdgesByEdges.rb. With this Plugin you can extrude an edge along another one.
You can go to the original post at to Download the plugin (you need to be registered). Before you do, see a quick snapshot of what this Ruby code does.

Chek here how to Install SketchUp Plugins.

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AutoCAD: LISP Routine for Converting Splines to Polylines

A LISP Routine to Convert some SPlines to Polylines. It has some bugs though.
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I was recently looking for a way to convert Splines to Polyines and found a LISP routine via Cadalyst. The routine works fine for Splines that we create from scratch. Unfortunately it doesn't work properly for Splines that have been generated when we offset an ellipse. In that case, the resulting polyline does not correspond to the spline we selected. For any other spline, it seems to work properly. You can download it at the cadalyst website.
As I previously explained, remember that you have the option to create ellipses as such or to do it creating an ellipse looking polyline through the PELLIPSE system variable.

Update: Kerry pointed out that there is a much easier way to convert Splines into Polylines. It is as simple as using the FLATTEN command for the spline you want to Convert. Thanks Kerry for the feedback.

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